Design of a respiratory laboratory for use in an educational setting Updated

Design of a respiratory laboratory for use in an educational setting

  • The undergraduate bioengineering laboratory class (BENG 172) is designed to teach students the skills necessary to solve biological and physiological problems through engineering principles and methods.
  • While the experiments in BENG 172 have allowed students to practice hands-on bioengineering techniques, there are certain deficiencies inherent in the course that affect the students’ learning and retention of information.
  • The problem we are addressing is that some experiments in BENG 172 are unable to maximize students’ understanding of the application of bioengineering concepts due to their lack of time efficiency and reliability of results.
  • Our goal was to design a new laboratory module that would produce reliable results, incorporate human biology as well as engineering principles, and be concise enough to be completed comfortably within the allotted time.
Methods and Materials
We proposed three design alternatives for BENG 172:
Redesign of the existing hydrogel laboratory
Redesign of the existing hematocrit laboratory
Create a new respiration laboratory
Each alternative was given a score in categories such as safety, performance, reliability, compatibility, and enjoyability.

Respiratory laboratory equipment and configuration

Figure 1: Subject wearing nasal thermocouple and inductance belt

Figure 2: Respiratory signals on oscilloscope measured with inductance belt

•The respiratory laboratory scored highest in the decision matrix and involves heat transfer and lung capacity using two methods:
•The first method uses a thermocouple that is inserted in the nasal/oral cannula. The thermocouple measures temperature change between two objects. The temperature change produced from each breath is obtained as a voltage change detected by the thermocouple.
•The second method utilizes a simple induction belt tied around the subject’s abdominal region, which measures tidal volume through normal breathing. The belt allows for measurement of change in resistance as the abdominal region expands and pushes outwards on the belt, which consequently results in a change in voltage.


Figure 3: Results following the procedure of new laboratory

  • The proposed respiratory laboratory generated quantifiable data within the three hour limit.
  • Differences in various lung volumes and temperature changes were adequately visualized on the equipment.
  • The data was consistent across three subjects and across trials within the same subject.
  • Protocol utilized concepts not covered in the other modules of BENG 172.
  • No safety concerns were experienced throughout the testing of the new design.

  • Application of bioengineering concepts in an educational laboratory setting with reliable results serves to aid in the learning of undergraduate students.
  • The respiratory laboratory is able to integrate fundamental theory with practical problems and can be performed adequately by students.
  • Ongoing work
    • Improve signals obtained by the inductance belt and nasal thermocouple
    • Test on other teams of undergraduate students

1.CleveLaboratorys Laboratory Course System, 2006.
2.Physiol Pharmacol, Can J., 1986.
3.Eletramed Corporation, 2013.

  • Dr. Marcos Intaglietta
  • Dr. Melissa K. Micou
  • Dr. John T. Watson
  • BENG 187 TA's